x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

His 'office', captured for all time

What started out as a nostalgic photo for the family records became a unique record of a Dubai that no longer exists.

Bastakiya and Diwan areas along Dubai Creek, 1984.
Bastakiya and Diwan areas along Dubai Creek, 1984.

Len Chapman worked for Gray Mackenzie and Co, then part of the Inchcape Group, a worldwide conglomerate. Inchcape had decided to photograph its business activities around the world and employed a professional photographer to take the photos. He was given the task of organising the photographer's itinerary in Dubai. One of the things he organised was a tug and barge to sail up and down Dubai Creek as a focal point for the photographer. Gray Mackenzie had for many years transported cargo by tug and barge from ships offshore into Dubai Creek and the creek wharves.

The photographer and Chapman followed the tug and barge in a smaller boat. While the photographer took the official photos of the tug and barge, Chapman took his own photos.

This photo was taken as they cruised past the old Diwan and Bastakia area. Chapman took the photo for nostalgic reasons. Thirteen years earlier he had arrived in Dubai as part of a three-man team to establish Port Rashid and his "office" (a corrugated iron shed) was located near the old Bastakiya by the creek.

Many of their workers lived in the old Bastakia houses. He did not know then that many of them would later be demolished. What started out as a nostalgic photo for the family records became a unique record of a Dubai that no longer exists.